The radioactive fog gives Far Harbor a different feel from the Commonwealth. The mood is too sinister to just call it gloomy. While the island is infested with new mutants, there is no need for one to hide in every dark shadow when the fog will slowly poison you to death. Those that call Far Harbor their home stay out of fierce loyalty to their heritage and are wary of mainlanders. No matter how hard you try to earn their trust, their stubbornness will get in the way of letting their guard down, but some are more easily persuaded than others. This is just a small portion of the environment and inhabitants you’ll encounter in Fallout 4: Far Harbor.
The story that unfolds weaves a delicate balance between three main factions on the island while introducing: a new cast of dynamic characters; more than enough monsters to keep you awake at night; and a few unique weapons along the way. There are no level requirements that I am aware of to start the DLC, but you must have completed the “Getting a Clue” quest with Nick in Diamond City. Once completed, your Pip-Boy will pick up a radio signal from his agency with a message from Ellie: Mr. Nakano has reported his daughter, Kasumi, missing and believes she was kidnapped. You’ll travel to the farthest corner of the Commonwealth to find where he and his wife live, then take their boat Far Harbor, where you still start your search.
Where to even begin with everything you’ll encounter in Far Harbor – there’s the locals, the Harbormen, who spend most of their time on the pier. They are chatty, a little long-winded at times, but there’s a sea captain in all of them with endless stories to tell. Here you’ll meet Longfellow, an older man with a salty tongue who can become your companion. There’s a religious cult, the Children of Atom, not liked at all by the locals and easily dismissed for their tendency to drink radioactive water. Many of them are losing their hair and their minds, but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Then there’s the synth refuge at Acadia, located in a dilapidated observatory. Here you will meet DiMA, who holds all the secrets to the island, yet touts himself as a peacekeeper and protector of synths. However, he is the real driving force to the story line; Kasumi’s disappearance is a means to get you on the island, but she’s not why you stay longer than intended.
Each of the three factions offer what feels like endless side-quests. If you stick to the main campaign, you can finish in a few hours, but if you go through everything Fallout 4: Far Harbor has to offer, you could still be sitting at your computer by the time the real apocalypse happens. The side-quests are plentiful, yes, although they seem to have an unbalanced combination of difficultly levels at times, which can make completing some of the mandatory ones frustrating if you are lower than level thirty. Playing through Cassie’s missions on normal, for example, has you killing a bunch of ghouls and one creeper. The ghouls can easily be mowed down with minimal ammo, but the creeper is way tougher. However, in my play-through it spawned in the water on the opposite side of a dock and remained still as I fired round after round into it. I was also able to move closer and take a couple of whacks at it with a bladed tire iron. It still did not attack me. Other ones I ran into later had no problem destroying my character and my pride.
Teddy’s mission is simple: go drop some meat in the water and kill whatever pops out to eat it. Show Far Harbor that you are enough of a gladiator to take the mutants out, and you’ll earn their respect. This is where my experience with Automatron came back to haunt me. Not one but two waves of giant crab-looking things and homicidal mutated lobsters came for my blood. For the finale, a mammoth-size queen lobster took joy in killing me over and over again. Oh, and I can’t forget about the Gulpers and Anglers I had to fend off on my way over to the quest location. This side-quest was a whole bunch of “nope.”
I started the first Children of the Atom quest, so I wouldn’t have to fight my way into their lair (because, let’s face it – at this point, I was tired of dying). Drink the water, they said. Follow the vision, they said. So, I did. My Rads spiked to over seventeen points, my vision went out of focus, and a shadow-women appeared. High on radiation, I followed her into an area infested with super-ghouls. I didn’t enjoy my initiation into the Children of the Atom so much. Instead of working to gain their trust to (potentially) get into the Nucleus without fighting my way through, I mercilessly slaughtered everyone. I still died. A lot. But it was worth it. Longfellow enjoyed himself, too.
Whether you prefer a quiet or a bloody entrance, you have to get to the Nucleus to gain access to some of DiMA’s “forgotten” memories. Here you’ll break away from the post-apocalyptic landscape to the inside of a computer system. Through a series of puzzles that mostly consist of moving blocks around to get little bugs to and from the memory banks, you’ll find conspiracy-level secrets DiMA has been keeping from everyone, including himself. Like the unbalanced side-quests, the puzzles here felt unbalanced as well; the first four were too easy, but the last one took me an ungodly amount of time to solve. This entire section could be removed completely and replaced with something as simple as collecting holotapes. The DLC would not suffer from the loss, and the pacing of the story would be improved.
The choices I made throughout Fallout 4: Far Harbor put me at an impasse once I reached the end of the story. Without giving too much away, I was forced to choose a destructive ending, one that didn’t affect me, but affected how others saw me. Their disdain for me didn’t last, however, and after a few exchanges, it was like my terrible act never happened. My ending to Fallout 4: Far Harbor felt unresolved and without consequence. For Kasumi and her family, you can make the ending a happy one, but for some of the inhabitants of the island, you cannot. It’s the post-apocalypse, after all. Sometimes, it is what it is.
Fallout 4: Far Harbor packs the same amount of creative storytelling and attention to detail that the base game does, making it a seamless and essential add-on. Characters in the Commonwealth become a part of the DLC, and in some cases become necessary to complete miscellaneous side-quests on the island. Those quests might also be frustrating to downright unplayable to those at lower levels, and some players, depending on their choices, might come to an ending that offers the illusion of choice. No matter the faults, Far Harbor is a solid expansion that adds hours of rich exploration to Fallout 4.
Fallout 4: Far Harbor was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the developer.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios| Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Genre: RPG | Platform: PC, XBox One, PS4 | PEGI/ESRB: 18/M | Release Date: May 18, 2016